Quality & Quantity 35: 429–443, 2001.
© 2001 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Musical Notation of Non-Musical Courses
Kanalgatan 7E, S-273 98 Smedstorp, Sweden
Abstract. Good graphic representations are a great help to directly see patterns in research res-
ults.Courses are no exception. However, a course means that time has to be a component in the
representation. If the components are few, it is easy to draw conventional graphic representations over
a time axis.However, if there are more than, say, 12–15 components under study the result becomes
unreadable. If, instead, we use musical notation we can notate hundreds of components with the time
given according to the time scale that suits the data. Readability is kept. The method is developed
for two special cases; courses, where the duration of components is known, and courses where the
order of components is known but not their duration. Information is shown on one or several staves
as something resembling a musical score. As a by-product a modiﬁed musical notation is shown to
be useful also for complicated cross-sections. These are working methods facilitating ﬁnal analysis
in making directly readable what should otherwise be exceeding the range of vision.
Key words: components, courses, graphic representation, time, musical notation
Music is enormously rich and varied. Music has a course, that is it takes time.
A musical course is sometimes very complicated. In order to correspond to the
intentions of composers the musical notation system has to be very rich and be
able to take time into account. In the sciences we lacked earlier a good method to
make graphic representations of complicated courses. By using musical notation
or modiﬁcations of it, it is possible to register and render readable complicated
courses (and complicated cross-sections) also in non-musical ﬁelds.This is why
musical notation symbols were chosen for registering non-musical courses. The
symbols as such are content-free. Symbols get the meaning we decide to give them.
The following article summarizes the very pragmatic and atheoretical descrip-
tion of the very pragmatic and atheoretical method of how to use musical notation
for nonmusical purposes. Earlier publications on the method exist, ﬁrst in a mono-
graph concerning young, recidivistic criminals (Johanson, 1981), later in articles,
the essential ones in this periodical (Johanson, 1987, 1991, 1997). Now (1) some
more general aspects on the notation of music and of non-music are given; (2) a
The whole method is dedicated to the organist Marie-Claire Alain, without whose way of
playing Bach it should not have existed.
Formerly head, Department of Forensic Psychiatry, University Hospital, Umeå University,